Unreliable service catching up with the T: Revenues down as commuters abandon it

CommonWealth reports MBTA fare collections are down $7 million this year, "caused mainly by people who say in surveys they can’t rely on the service and have cut back on its use."

Neighborhoods: 

    Topics: 

    Free tagging: 

      Comments

      Listen Up Charlie

      By on

      You ain't going to make those carbon targets if you force people into cars with your mythological "reasons" for fucking over the MBTA.

      We should also tell that Northhampton Idiot in the statehouse

      By on

      Hey - Stanley "Forward Funding" Rosenberg! MAYBE if we stopped SUBSIDIZING your roads in Northhampton and westmass, we would have all the funding we need for the MBTA!

      Enjoy your flood damage - don't ask for a drop from us again.

      Nope

      By on

      He lives in Noho. I can even show you the exact location in google maps.

      He went to UMass Amherst. He represents Amherst. He does not live in Amherst.

      Report: statewide support for transpo. We need revenue FairShare

      By on

      Report highlights commuter frustration
      September 26, 2017

      Frustrated by the condition of public transportation infrastructure around the state, residents from Boston to the Berkshires who were engaged by state senators expressed interest in expanded rail and bus service and a willingness to pay for it, according to a new report.

      The MassMoves report, put together by a group of senators who spent part of this year traveling around Massachusetts to discuss priorities with voters, is intended, according to Senate leaders, to spark a new dialogue over how to improve transportation.

      The exercise, the authors said, aimed to develop a core set of values held by residents whether they live on the North Shore or in Franklin Country. In the report, senators did not propose specific projects, funding sources, or a blueprint for what to do next.

      “I hope this isn’t the end of it. I think there still needs to be more public engagement and flushing out more,” said Senate President Stanley Rosenberg.

      As the MBTA grapples with persistent service problems, Massachusetts officials are slowly moving forward with projects to extend the Green Line to Somerville and Medford and bring commuter rail service from Boston to Fall River and New Bedford. Activists have pitched many other projects, including an expansion of South Station in Boston, a tunnel linking trains between North and South stations, and trains connecting Springfield to Boston.

      The Amherst Democrat said he wasn’t sure if or when the work done by senators would lead to new legislation, but noted that 16 senators had sent the survey on Tuesday to their social media lists to solicit additional public responses.

      More than 80 percent of people who participated in nine Senate workshops around the state indicated they believe the transportation system in Massachusetts is not in good shape, according to the report, which surveyed 715 participants.

      There wolf!

      By on

      Just as a side note, if Ware High School ever changes their mascot from the politically incorrect "Indians" to the Wolves, I will gladly buy a Ware Wolves sweatshirt.

      A town

      By on

      that relies heavily on state tax dollars.

      Maybe the inside 128 representatives can lobby together and put the squeeze in people like him. We spend plenty of investment in Amherst and the five college region, and the PVTA.

      It needs to be reciprocal.

      Yeah, that 1% statewide sales

      By on

      Yeah, that 1% statewide sales tax that is dedicated only to roads in Northhampton is really unfair.

      Sorry you are so bad at math

      By on

      In 2011 the state coughed up 50 million to repair roadways serving <1 million people.

      Think about that.

      On a cost per person basis, the roads in WestMass are heavily subsidized by economic activity in the eastern part of the state.

      Like our own little red state inside a blue state.

      And yet they whine about "subsidizing Boston". As if.

      the doom loop :(

      Crappy service leads to decreased ridership leads to budget problems leads to cuts, resulting in still crappier service and on and on.

      But the cycle can run in reverse too... will the new cars be enough to save us?

      If it's done right

      By on

      The cycle can be reversed. This has happened in other cities. Heck, some would be surprised that it happened in Boston (if you go back to the 60s and compare ridership to now.)

      Of course, I want to see the ridership numbers. The flaw in the article is that it makes the claim based on surveys that show riders question the reliability of the service. Sometimes the T is the best of a bunch of bad choices. All I know is that the Orange Line is as crowded this year as it was last year.

      They could make up for the

      By on

      They could make up for the lost revenue if they reduced fare evasions. But they aren't enforced 99% of the time. At my home station alone (Field's Corner), half the people walk through illegally, and the T employees (who see it) do nothing.

      They could also get rid of employees who sit in booths and literally do nothing. Seriously - you could stand there for hours watching them and you'd notice they do absolutely *nothing*

      Lots of people think that

      By on

      The reality is that it is not cost effective and is a waste of resources.

      How many times do we have to go through this? IT DOES NOT SAVE MONEY

      Yes, if they could come up

      By on

      Yes, if they could come up with a way to stop fare evasions while spending exactly $0, that might help.

      Please stop

      By on

      They could make up for the lost revenue if they reduced fare evasions. But they aren't enforced 99% of the time. At my home station alone (Field's Corner), half the people walk through illegally, and the T employees (who see it) do nothing.

      Please stop with this notion about lost revenue not being collected. Once money is put into the card, it's the T's. We've seen that when the cards expre (the T keeps your cash). The T already has money.. now they can't spend it until it is swiped at a faregate.

      But to continually say the T is losing money because of fare evasion is a crock. Most cities move to Proof of Payment, which does not require every user to swipe. Spot checking and heavy fines ensures that people have the fare on their cards... but this is MA.. it's JUST starting to get traction on the green line with all door boarding.

      They could also get rid of employees who sit in booths and literally do nothing. Seriously - you could stand there for hours watching them and you'd notice they do absolutely *nothing*

      You are aware that these people you talk about are being replaced by a private company by people who make minimum wage?

      Also, would YOU stop someone over a 2.25 fare? Nope, not worth getting maced or hurt. Let T police to do something. That is who REALLY should be working on fare evasion, not the gate staff. Not their job, not their responsibility, and frankly, not their liability.

      ...

      By on

      You are aware that these people you talk about are being replaced by a private company by people who make minimum wage?

      Good! At least then we're saving money for someone to do nothing!

      Also, would YOU stop someone over a 2.25 fare? Nope, not worth getting maced or hurt. Let T police to do something. That is who REALLY should be working on fare evasion, not the gate staff. Not their job, not their responsibility, and frankly, not their liability

      I guess if the cashier at Roche's doesn't want to try and question the guy walking out of the store with milk, ohhh welllll... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      In all seriousness, if this isn't part of their job then what is? I think the original poster's argument also is that there isn't any money being put on any card/pass by evaders.

      ...

      By on

      I guess if the cashier at Roche's doesn't want to try and question the guy walking out of the store with milk, ohhh welllll... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      I would bet Roche's has a policy against employees attempting to stop/apprehend shoplifters - most companies do as its not worth employees potentially getting hurt/killed/stabbed over $3.29 gallon of milk.

      In all seriousness, if this isn't part of their job then what is? I think the original poster's argument also is that there isn't any money being put on any card/pass by evaders.

      They are there to help people if their fare cards are not working, directions, wheel chairs/disabled persons/etc. They are also there to call/alert the MBTA police of fare evasion if it happens.

      99%(probably 100%) of retail

      99%(probably 100%) of retail chains prohibit any employee except LP to even question a shop lifter, they'll fire non-LP employees that attempt to stop shoplifters.

      ....

      By on

      Ok, I'll back off and admit that this probably is retail co's & the like's policy to not get in the way then and I'm wrong. I guess we do live in a world where we do have to assume the worst case scenarios when confronting wrongdoers.

      In my younger days, a friend of mine drunkenly swooped in with me at Bunker Hill CC and the MBTA gate rep there rightfully put him in his place and made him pay the fare.

      Your apologist views are the

      By on

      Your apologist views are the reason nothing gets better.

      For the fare evaders: I'm not talking about people who have "money on a card." I'm talking about person #1 swipes there card, and persons #2 + 3 sneak in behind them through the gates. The "alarm" buzzers notifying you the systems knows people snuck through, but nothing happens to them.

      Also: "Not their job, not their responsibility" - then what IS their job? To physically sit there and do nothing?

      It just hit me - you're totally a T employee, aren't you???

      Hokey...

      By on

      they are not not doing nothing. I would love to have a person "doing nothing" at, oh say, MIT/Kendall when I have a question. Can't ask someone who is not there. So before you presume and assume, why don't you ask the next "person doing nothing" sitting in a T station booth and ask them what their job is? I will presume and assume you will have an interesting conversation.

      Not sure if you are a cube dweller, but if you are, someone is probably assuming and/or presuming that you are sitting in your cube doing nothing from time to time when, actually, you are doing something.

      save more money by abolishing the fare system completely.

      The massive amount of equipment and staff needed to collect fares that don't actually pay enough to run the system is the problem.

      If the fare was Zero, more people would use it and pollution and traffic would reduce. I don't say free because of course we all pay for it, but it would attract more companies to the area.

      Gov Chuck played the MBTA funding to save the big dig. He needs to sprinkle a little more of that financial magic to fix the MBTA funding.

      Hopefully

      The new orange and red line trains will help a bit.

      But the T has also had staffing (both in numbers and apathy) issues for years. Not to mention rider etiquette, especially at rush hour, seems to get worse by the day. Between fare evasion and people getting fed up with having to wait for the next train because of selfish morons with backpacks on or that don’t want to move into the train alone, this isn’t surprising.

      Personally, I’ll also note that I work in the Sourh End and connect through Tufts, and 3-4 days a week end up just walking to my office and getting there without ever seeing a Silver Line bus. Used to be the same way with the 66 when I lived in Lower Allston and commuted trough Harvard.

      I would imagine Weekend Bustitution has had an effect

      By on

      on revenue.

      The Red Line has been interrupted for a few years on weekends, and I have avoided taking the T on those occasions between Cambridge and Boston, except for this year’s Honk!/Oktoberfest.

      The same goes for the Orange Line, at both ends of the line. Add in commuter rail Positive Train Control installation, Forest Hills construction, etc. and I can see why the numbers are down.

      On the flip side, I see the subway as crowded as ever during many periods. The Orange Line has been running with fewer trains for a long time, meaning wait times are longer and the remaining trains are more crowded. The Red Line has also been running reduced trains on weekends on the parts that have actual service.

      My biggest worry is that Baker/Pollack and crew will use these numbers as an excuse to reduce service even more, which is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing.

      Improve the service and the schedule, and the riders will return.

      Oh man

      don't even get me started on the bus substitution thing. Went to Harvard for a haircut this past Sat, and opted not to drive because of the game happening at the same time. Tried using the 1 as a workaround and regretted every second of it.

      red line bustitution

      By on

      it never ceased to amaze me that the MBTA wouldn't increase service on the #1 bus when the red line is under bustitution. I even wrote to the MBTA to suggest it once, and got crickets in return.

      I think a ton of people are

      By on

      I think a ton of people are using Uber/Lyft for trips that would previously have been on the T. It’s screwing up traffic too.

      The amount of double-parking on major streets and in commercial

      By on

      areas is becoming (or has become) downright dangerous.

      I think it’s time that we start thinking of eliminating street parking in commercial zones, except for existing handicapped spaces. With the amount of taxi/Uber/Lyft pickups and drop offs, along with delivery vehicles, just convert meters to curbside delivery and loading/unloading zones. Use traffic enforcement to write tickets for those violators and box blockers, rather than meter tickets.

      This may help traffic flow and could reduce bike lane blockage. Time to use those parking garages and/or choose a different mode of travel in the city. Maybe we can even get actual bus lanes in some areas.

      T fares have doubled over the

      By on

      T fares have doubled over the last 15 years. Meanwhile the gas tax has gone down thanks to inflation. Obviously if you screw over T riders and coddle drivers some T riders are going to start driving.

      If you say the gas tax has gone down

      By on

      Then you cannot say that T fares have doubled. You cannot index one without indexing the other.

      I mean, if we really want to twist figures, the cost of a subway ride (using a Charlie Card) has gone up $1.40 since 1991. That's less than the cost increase of a copy of the Boston Globe during the same period.

      Sure

      By on

      On street parking rates have more than doubled in recent years, assuming you are just talking about metered parking in the Back Bay. And that will track inflation better than Kinopio's claim. Moreover, they are in use more hours than they were back in the day. Besides, that is City of Boston's transportation policy. We are taking state transportation policies here. You know, like the T and the gas tax.

      The $1 fare in 2002 would be

      By on

      The $1 fare in 2002 would be worth $1.36 today. So today's CharlieCard fare of $2.25 isn't double -- more like 1.65x.

      Fair enough. But you aren't

      By on

      Fair enough. But you aren't factoring in drivers paying less in tax because of cars getting more miles per gallon.

      Since 2000:
      Subway fare has gone up $1.40
      Gas tax has gone up THREE CENTS!
      That is the plainest way of looking at it.

      Now, now

      By on

      I never said the increases were equitable, only that your claim that the gas tax had gone down doesn't hold up to scrutiny any way you slice it (as my guess was that you were factoring inflation into the gas tax while not factoring it in the fare increase.)

      Umm

      By on

      I never said the increases were equitable, only that your claim that the gas tax had gone down doesn't hold up to scrutiny any way you slice it (as my guess was that you were factoring inflation into the gas tax while not factoring it in the fare increase.)

      What? Factoring in inflation into the amount of the MBTA fare increases still show an overall increase in the fare. This doesn't change that when inflation is also factored into the gas tax, it has went down. You simply demonstrated that the MBTA's fares didn't rise as high as the original poster had thought (and not factored in inflation) - that doesn't change anything on the gas side of things.

      Yeah, but

      By on

      If we index for inflation, which is what Kinopio did for the gas tax, the rate of increase for the T fare is less than 100%. If we don't index for inflation, the gas tax rises while T fares double. It was his statement that I found fault with, not the overall concept.

      Of course, being a bus and subway guy, I would say that the fares haven't doubled, but I won't, because the baseline should be subway fare by the cheapest fare possible (Charlie Card.)

      Cheaper to Drive and Park in Boston

      By on

      Driving from the south, it is slightly cheaper to drive and park in Boston then it is to take the commuter rail / T and park at the station. This could change of course if they put tolls on 93.

      An added bonus is that driving takes off about 45 minutes from my commute, even with all the traffic.

      I tried the T for many years, it is just not worth the hassle of late and over crowded trains.

      been tried before

      By on

      has never succeeded. I don't expect it to succeed this time.
      Anyone who has lived in the city for any length of time (beyond 4 year college stay) has seen this coming from a mile away. Service keeps getting worse, people who actually need to be at work on time will seek alternate methods. Winter gets shorter every year, so people can bike longer, combined with more bike lanes, and Hubway continues expanding.
      politicians like Baker and Marty like to claim the T isn't that bad, meanwhile the evidence piles up behind them to the contrary. Eventually they will face the fact that government isn't a business mandated to generate profit for shareholders, and that money needs to be poured into the T simply to get it to functional level, without ever CONSIDERING expansion. Any proposals at expansion should be laughed out of the room for the next 20 years at least. After that Metro Boston faces being an underwater city anyhow.

      They don't need it

      By on

      The fed will just take away fed transportation funding if we do it unilaterally.

      More likely, they'll fast track it for negotiations to spend less here, but not take away the majority of funding as has happened in other states.

      We tried a trip from Lechmere

      By on

      We tried a trip from Lechmere to Forest Hills this weekend. Of course there was bus substitution and a whole lot of confusion and T employees pointing us towards non-existent service. Supposely this trip should take about 40 minutes but it took us more than 1.5 hours. Next time it's driving or Lyft.

      On the other hand

      By on

      They could have not replaced the switch at Ruggles, which is one of the reasons by bustitution was in place last week-end. The construction the next 3 week-ends will be something else, but I'd rather inconvenience on the week-ends (and yes, I use the T on the week-end) than delays constantly during rush hours when the things that need work done on them break.

      Same thing is happening in NYC

      By on

      Bus ridership is way down and weekend subway ridership is down, too.

      Meanwhile, average daily for-hire car trips are up from about 460k (peak yellow cab) to over 700k (yellow, green, 4 app services combined). But adding 60,000 new for-hire vehicles to the streets has not helped traffic.

      Half the subway lines are closed or rerouted every weekend for maintenance. People don't even think of using them at this point. They'll find coupon codes online for Via or Juno or Lyft and take VC-funded car trips instead.

      Every time DC gives money to

      By on

      Every time DC gives money to public transit it goes into pay, pensions, and perks and not maintenance or new infrastructure. A toxic union and management culture is killing public transit nation wide.

      Google

      By on

      enter "SORE" "Budget" "MBTA" and you'll find your citation - I think only updated to 2014 or 2015 but it goes back a couple decades - what you'll find is that debt payments (i.e. capital expenses) were stagnant until a few years ago when the system started to literally crumble beneath Deval's feet, while other areas (all predominantly wages and benefits) are up significantly.

      Before Deval?

      By on

      The stalactites descending from the ceiling at Shawmut started growing before Deval was governor. While living in Dorchester I heard from neighbors that there was talk in the T to eliminate the Ashmont line. We know the A branch of the Green line was eliminated as well as the Arborway extension of the E line. So from what I've seen and read the crumbling - and dismantling - of the subway system began before Deval.

      It's a problem that governors and legislators have tolerated for a couple of decades. Plus I thought Deval at one point proposed a massive increase to public transportation. But the legislature never followed through. Instead they tied the T budget to the state sales tax which subsequently tanked in the last recession. Not so smart. But then I would never accuse our legislators of being smart people.

      Oh - I agree with you

      By on

      This goes back multiple administrations and is an equal opportunity Republican/Democratic failure. The point was that the trend turned modestly under Deval - but not by choice. Baker and our Dem legislature deserve kudos for finally putting a finger in the MBTA dike and committing to long term improvements to the system - however - don't hold your breath. None of this is likely to be evident in performance for several more years until the new cars and locomotives finally arrive.

      Who ordered the new cars?

      By on

      None of this is likely to be evident in performance for several more years until the new cars and locomotives finally arrive.

      Enlighten me, please.

      Lots of em

      By on

      Red line, orange line

      Apparently green line and commuter coaches under consideration.

      Need support for public transportation at all levels

      I recently took a business trip to the UK, took the Underground and trains. Very packed, but with friendly staff, on time service, much cheaper than Uber and of course taxis.

      The problem is that we need a true commitment to public transportation and infrastructure from elected officials at all levels. From dog catcher to President. Michelle Wu and I have both talked about the importance of making sure dedicated bus lanes are actually dedicated. I have not heard much from the other candidates on this issue. I 've promised to take the MBTA or my bicycle at least one day a week in part to bear witness to how the T is working. If more elected officials would take the T and see how disruptive service disrupts their lives, perhaps they would pay more attention to making the system not just work, but to be exemplary.

      When did America go from wanting to actually be the best at the world at things to just accepting 'just good enough' ???

      Here is a video of former Governor Mike Dukakis and I discussing the MBTA:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfjVtuUQfuU

      Pat, which two city council candidates

      Pat, which two at-large city council candidates (among 4 incumbents and 3 other challengers) would you most like to serve with on council? And what do you like about their service?

      Could be.

      By on

      I have a family member who lives walking distance to the Green Line and worked downtown. The service and conditions were so bad she transferred to her company's suburban office so she could drive to work.

      Fare Jumping

      By on

      Since crime is at an all time low on the system couldn't the Transit Police station an officer at the fare gates at Fields Corner and Savin Hill where no one pays.

      441/442 cut back to Wonderland

      By on

      I used to commute round trip to Lynn Central Square back in the day, taking the Orange Line to Haymarket and then catching the Marblehead bus which used to originate at Haymarket. The MBTA now terminates this service from the North Shore at Wonderland, forcing a transfer from the Orange line to the Blue Line and another transfer to the 441/442.

      Screw that. I drive now.

      Brings me back to the days of the '70s when we used to ask--in all seriousness--"Do we have time to take the T or should we walk?"

      How long did the bus take

      By on

      How long did the bus take between Wonderland and Haymarket at rush hour? I'd think the Blue Line would be faster. The problem is the uncertainty in catching the bus in the outbound direction, which could lead to a long wait for the next one.

      Of course the real solution is a one-seat rail ride. If I were in charge, I'd fix the Commuter Rail rather than spending billions to extend the Blue Line. Just buy some DMUs and run them frequently -- problem solved with zero cost or time building tracks or stations. They're also much cheaper, faster, more fuel efficient, and most importantly more reliable than the behemoths that run on the Commuter Rail today.

      Orange Line is still over crowded

      By on

      The Orange Line is more crowded than ever during the week. Even when service is on time, the trains are jammed packed. All of my commutes are miserable. But I know the roads are even more jammed. It can take 20 minutes just to drive one mile to Wellington. There are no good options.

      When I read about how

      By on

      When I read about how unreliable the T is these days, I think about these things:

      - I was a heavy user of the T through my high school and college years. Don't seem to remember it being as unreliable as it is now.

      - I see all these high-rises springing up near Fenway, Forest Hills, etc. The developers are assuming that these tenants want to work in town, take the T, and may not even have cars.

      - I see all these companies relocating to downtown. The most recent one that sticks out is Reebok. Really? You're going to leave that beautiful campus in Canton for overpriced office space in the Seaport? If I were a company, I would be going against the tide, and looking for space in the suburbs.

      I would echo the other

      By on

      I would echo the other comments about bustitution being a large reason why there's been a drop in ridership.

      The Orange and Red Lines have had multiple weekend bustitutions due to planned track work or bridge work that impacts service. The Green Line also had bustitution while the Comm Ave Bridge was being replaced.

      Add to that the appeal of Uber/Lyft during off-peak times when T service on a good day is sporadic at best.

      Hopefully, all this track work and the new rolling stock will improve service in the long term. But I think the T also needs to increase service on the weekends in general if they don't want to lose more riders to Uber/Lyft.